COVID-19 cases rapidly increase while deaths decrease

It has been about 5 months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit every state in the US. By late-March, many states implemented some type of restriction to minimize spread of infection and “flatten the curve.”

Regardless of any controversies in how the numbers are reported, we’re going to look at the number of cases and deaths over the past couple months. Figure 1 below shows how effective the aforementioned restrictive measures have been:

Figure 1 – Number of reported COVID-19 cases reported by day from March 1st to July 3rd.

Despite implementing CDC social distancing guidelines and various restrictions, cases continued to rise through April, peaking at 48,529 cases on April 26, 2020. Is it possible this continued increase can be attributed to the viral incubation period? According to the World Health Organization, the average incubation period for the virus is 5-6 days but sometimes up to 14 days.

Various states started “re-opening” their businesses and lifting some restrictions in May. There was concern that this was being done too early and that the virus was not yet adequately controlled. Fortunately, the average number of cases dropped from 29,176 per day in April to about 23,563 per day for the month of May, a 19 percent decrease.

By the end of May, many individuals started to grow impatient that the states have not completely re-opened; this led to people taking matters into their own hands and resuming large gatherings and social activities. Additionally, the May 25th murder of George Floyd ignited world-wide anti-racism protests which may have been another contributing factor to the impending spread of COVID-19.

The average number of cases per day in June spiked back up to 27,338 per day in June and almost doubled to 50,942 four days into July. While cases continue to rise, the number of deaths is on a relative decline.

Figure 2 – The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 per day from March 1st through July 3rd.

The average number of deaths per day has steadily decreased from 1,926/day in April to 1,381/day in May, to 745/day in June. The reason for the decrease in number of deaths despite the increase in cases remains unclear. There are some theories the virus has mutated into a weaker form; other theories suggest a difference in the way the deaths are being reported. Sources familiar with the virus’s thinking report that it just “does what it wants.”

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